RADIO PAKISTAN KARACHI DRAMA PROGRAMS IN THE 1960’S
KARACHI’S VERY OWN۔۔۔THE ONE AND ONLY PLATINUM VOICED ARTIST:
By Raju Jamil
When Pakistan was growing with a slow yet an impacting impression on those who, somehow, knew that listening to the Radio, would play a huge role in their life going forward in many ways, the fortunate ones understood and almost all those wonder years, were fortunate ones.
There was this time at the Radio Pakistan, Karachi when the radio programs which did not essentially involve the publicity of the govt and the leader or Governor General or the Minister—–became the talk of the town—specially the dramas.
The Baba-e-Drama at the RPK was Zulfiqar Ali Bukhari the brother of the famous writer of class Pitras Bukhari.
While Radio dramas took birth, the concept of dedicating one Saturday per week for dramas at 9 PM became a reality (and a memory now) when the ever famous series “Studio Number Nau (9)” was introduced sometime in 1960-61.
Zulfiqar Ali Bukhari’s great drama…one of the firsts on RPK “Lighthouse Ka Muhafiz” (probably inspired by the famous Hemingway novel “Old Man And The Sea”) was a rocker….where he played two characters of his son and as his father…with story going as the son bitten by a Dog, is in pain, bitterly crying for some water being thirsty which his father is resisting because of some medical reasons that it should not be given to a dog bitten person. The drama was so powerful and touching that it brought tears to many eyes…even at our home when we were glued to our PYE Radio set…holding the aerial by the two fingers for a clearer reception due to earthing it required and the medium wave having poor quality in those days.
“Lighthouse Ka Muhafiz” was again reproduced by Abdul Majid later…where he too played the role of his son and the father. He was good too…but a bit step down over Bukhari Sahab’s.
Produced by the emperors RPK producers like; Razi Akhtar Shauq, Farooq Jahan Taimuri et al., with background music and effects by M. A. Razzak, the SNN, became one of the most popular and infectious drama series in the history of Radio Pakistan’s any station or broadcasting house in Pakistan.
The artiste who became dreams of the listeners for the melodious, variated, base, soft, low, romantic and commanding voices created an unseen in real life, figures as the ideals of thousands then in sixties.
Some of the names I remember being a diehard of the RPK’ “Studio Number Nau” were; Fatima Khanum (khala of Shirin Azim of PTV), Humaira Naeem, Ibrahim Nafees, S.M.Saleem aka to us as CHAPPI CHACHA, Mughal Bashar, Sahab Qazilbash, Irfan Ali, Mahmood Ali, Zafar Siddiqui, Abdul Majid, Qayyum Arif, AMEER KHAN …and from late 1962 some unforgettable artiste’ like Talat Hussain, Sajida Syed, Qazi Wajid, Rehana Siddiqui, Talat Sidiqui…started appearing in some of the most memorable Radio plays I still remember with the stories by heart, like;
“Raahain” (Ibrahim Nafees), “Rooh Ka Chakkar” (Talat Hussain and Sajida Syed) and “Ilteeja” (Humaira Naeem, Fatima Khanum and Abdul Majid)..and scores or more…..
Studio number Nau….. survived till the entry of Hasina Moin as a writer and Neelofer Alim Abbasi, as an amazing find from the students program “Bazm-e-Talaba” where she performed in a drama competition for students.
The annual drama festival “Jashn-e-Tamseel” was like the “Super Bowl” of America for the Radio Drama freaks……weeks of planning for dinner GTs were done to hear the drama together. A broomstick was kept handy for a swash on the head of anyone who spoke or tried to predict what will happen next or in the end.
Radio Pakistan’s “Aap Ke Khatt” is on records to have received over 5000 letters in one week on some play broadcast during one of the Jashn e Tamseel of late sixties….begging, pleading and demanding that the drama be soon repeated.
Of all these artiste on Radio Pakistan’s drama circle, it was ONE who emerged clearly with a firm affirmation that he is there to conquer the PTV when it came to Karachi on 2nd November, 1967…..
Yes, I talk about the greatest voice, a handsome, young, most talented son of one of the senior most and indeed, most loved announcer of RPK; Aunty Shaista Khanum…..a la; TALAT HUSAIN.
Since Talat had remained my hero from my craze and obvious inheritance of Urdu Adab from my father who was very popular with Radio personalities those days that Urdu was our house inhabitant and a loved member of family which saw some greatest play writes, poets, afsana nigars, intellectuals visiting our house and me making most of taking their autographs and often, being a tea boy and errand runner to them that my love for Urdu Dramas on RPK kind of lived and lives now even and that meeting Talat Hussain on PTV and a bit later….acting with him in a few projects during very early 70’s…….made my dream come true….for the honor and the fact that Talat Hussain, is perhaps, the Emperor of emotions that Roohi Bano was Empress.
Moin Akhtar often had anecdotal references to TH’s long pauses…..but all in spirit and merriment while the fact of the matter remains that there’s been no one till date and I find it very hard to comprehend or believe that there will be anyone matching the class and style and mood of acting like that of Talat Hussain. He made us proud internationally, having appeared in foreign movies with a decisive and apt role. His TV plays carried the story a powerful viewing mostly due to his complete involvement in acting and his character. He was and is…the Lawrence Olivier of Pakistan Showbiz TV that I do declare with conviction. His voice commanded silence and total attention of the viewers……
He has been a bit under the right weather of ailment but he is better and back and ready to again show that his best days are yet to come—you ain’t seen nothing yet.
So….the connoisseurs of productions, the directors overtaking David Lean, should seriously consider Talat Hussain as an asset and capitalise on his great talents amongst what we see as the great rise of park showbiz TV and private productions that the PTV has seriously gilted the Country by backing off from its repute it created even at the neighbours who were peanuts in front of our drama productions…but now way ahead of us.
Thank you Talat Hussain for the huge entertainment you have given the Nation when it had around 75 million populace and continued to do so when it has reached 200 million.
Hail Talat Hussain…..we are so proud to have amongst us at the Showbiz as THE outstanding actor…who proved his mettle, on Radio, TV, Films and Documentaries since 1961…..
Yes…he has been my friend since 1968 and it was me who took him to Karachi Airport that cold morning of 1970 to bid goodbye to him when he proceeded to London for a course of acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts for six months. He is elder by 6 years or more to me but our hearts enjoy the same age of 18 still…….I do say.
Azra Maqbul wrote on the Facebook group Karachi Past and Present on July 18 2018: Your”aakhon dekha haal” was like a “tasveeri haal” every word you’ve mentioned here I could see and remembered it all as you describe Saturday Nights’ Studio Number Nau’. I can here the wind blowing of M A Razzak’s “sauti asraat”. My Uncle, Anwer Enayatullah Sharif who was associated both with RPK and PTV-K was a critic and used to write his views on dramas in Sunday Dawn we would argue with him if he gave a negative review about the performance or story. Thank You Raju Jamil